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Is A Hockey Town Blooming In Arizona?

from Vince Marotta of Arizona Sports,

I’ve lived in the Valley since 1979 and became involved in this city’s sports media in 1996 - the same year the Coyotes got to town - and this was the first time I can remember a perfect stranger engaging me in a conversation about the Phoenix Coyotes.


It’s starting to feel like Phoenix is becoming real hockey town….

For the first time, both rabid fans and casual latecomers are expecting big things instead of just hoping that the Coyotes get into the playoffs or win a series.

The way this team is playing right now could very well end in guys like Shane Doan, Mike Smith and Radim Vrbata hoisting Lord Stanley’s Cup in June.

But even if that doesn’t happen, eager Phoenix bandwagon jumpers have been given their first opportunity to taste Coyotes’ success.


Filed in: NHL Teams, d, | KK Hockey | Permalink


Ajax19's avatar

Is A Hockey Town Blooming In Arizona?

No.  It’s a brief, cute little fad. 

That said, the folks in Phoenix should, and have every right to, enjoy it while it lasts.  A Cup run is a great thing and hockey fans should embrace everyone willing to come aboard.  As great a sport it is, it’s not quite “popular” or “cool” enough to start turning away new fans, temporary or not.

Posted by Ajax19 on 05/01/12 at 07:47 PM ET

mrfluffy's avatar

Imagine what happens when your team actually accomplishes something, even if it’s just a simple first round (and possible second round) series win. The diehards will remain, but the bandwagoners will abandon ship next fall if/when they start losing (again).

And Phoenix will fall back into the doldrums from which they supposedly emerged this April. This “blooming” will be short-lived.

Posted by mrfluffy from A wide spot on I-90 in Montana on 05/01/12 at 07:52 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

I’ve lived in Kansas since 1992 and I’ve had the exact same amount of random hockey conversations with total strangers.

Kansas: the State of Hockey!

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 05/01/12 at 08:41 PM ET


This “blooming” will be short-lived

Perhaps.  A small percentage of those bandwagon jumpers will become hardcore fans.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  It seems hockey, more so than most sports, shuns bandwagon fans.  Everyone has to start somewhere.  Hockey is too great of a game for current fans to shun away new ones.  Now whether or not Phoenix stays is another issue…

Posted by pens fan in baltimore on 05/01/12 at 09:28 PM ET

Savage Henry's avatar

Hockey is too great of a game for current fans to shun away new ones.

^ The best sentence ever written on this site (that wasn’t written by The Chief, anyway).  When Atlanta had a team I made a big effort to spread the game to my friends and to explain rules, etc to anybody who was curious.  Hockey is too good to keep to ourselves.

Posted by Savage Henry on 05/01/12 at 09:56 PM ET

Vladimir16's avatar

Is A Hockey Town Blooming In Arizona?

Really? Are you kidding me with this? Good grief.

Posted by Vladimir16 from Grand River Valley on 05/01/12 at 11:47 PM ET


Haters and snobs will never accept that hockey can grow anywhere other than next to a frozen pond. Well the truth is that hockey can and will grow in the sun belt. LA sells out most games and has for a couple years now. Dallas had tremendous support until the owner went broke, which had nothing to do with hockey. Nashville is getting a strong following, Washington, which was a terrible hockey town for years, sells out every game. St. Louis which has had no success to speak of can fill the barn, if there is even a hint of success. Look how quick Florida sold out once they showed even a glimpse of success. Tampa has a strong fan base. So there is absolutely no reason hockey can’t bloom in the desert and you are seeing what it looks like. With the trashing this team has taken by the media, Ballsillie and almost everyone else. This is to say nothing about the fact it has looked like they have been on the verge of moving for 3 years, to have this kind of passion in the second round, is amazing. I challenge any fan base to endure what this team has endured and have ANY support. That goes for ALL of the original six franchises.

Posted by timbits on 05/02/12 at 12:39 AM ET

Primis's avatar

Hockey towns aren’t made or measured by the crowds coming to see playoff NHL teams.

Hockey towns are measured by the impact the game (NHL and otherwise) has on the area.  Are fans watching other hockey besides NHL?  Are schools playing hockey?  I don’t know about the HS hockey, but minor hockey has struggled to take any root in the area and state.

Posted by Primis on 05/02/12 at 09:27 AM ET


After spending the majority of my life in Philly and the ‘Burgh(and a few places in between), the last 10 years in AZ seems no different when it comes to ‘bandwagon’ jumpers.  As was the same case in PA, the majority of non-hockey fans have never been to a game!  In both PA and AZ, a good 80% of people I’ve taken to their first hockey event, are now the one’s who are attending at least 50% of home games.  It’s a matter of getting them introduced to the game.  While I do have certain individuals I enjoy going to games with, I also find it important to drag along an outsider as well.  Take someone to their first ever hockey game, and chances are, they will be taking someone else to their first ever hockey game shortly after.  It’s addicting, not to mention contagious!  Do you get someone addicted to crack by talking about it?  No, you need to expose them to it!  Ok, maybe that’s not the best example…..but it is true, and point is made!

Posted by DrunknRuckus from AZ on 05/02/12 at 10:37 AM ET


Is Phoenix a hockey town because someone talked about hockey?

I don’t know, if there’s a rape trial in Phoenix and someone mentions it, then I would that make Phoenix a rape town?

Posted by Garth on 05/02/12 at 10:51 AM ET


I was in Phoenix last week, seemed like no one even knew there was a series going on. Only anecdotal, but didn’t see too much coverage and I was hard pressed to even find Coyote merchandise anywhere for the kids since they like the barking dog (and not because it was bought up by the locals).

This isn’t to say there aren’t hard core fans that support the team, but I didn’t see any evidence of Coyote fever taking the town by storm. I hope after ten plus years this actually does draw more fans to the games. The higher expectation of bandwagon fans just gives them an excuse to jump off at the first sign of trouble.

Posted by hockey1919 from mid-atlantic on 05/02/12 at 12:31 PM ET


Posted by DrunknRuckus from AZ on 05/02/12 at 08:37 AM ET

You holdin’ man?

This guy makes a good point though… Nothing wrong with hopping on the bandwagon if it gets more people into hockey. I hopped on the Wings bandwagon in the earlyish 90’s ‘cos a.) I was a kid b.) Hockey was the only sport that I liked much and c.) the Wings were the local team, and getting really good. And I’m still on the wagon.

Yeah, it kind of sucks when someone who’s been into hockey for a really short amount of time tries to diss your team because they root for a city they have no connection with, but this isn’t one of those.

Let the city of Phoenix have it’s fun.

Posted by LGRWeh on 05/02/12 at 01:13 PM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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